Plan for new Penwortham shops to go ahead in the face of parking fears

A retail development is set to replace a former Indian restaurant in Penwortham – in spite of parking and road safety concerns raised by locals.

Three new single-storey shop units and a hot food takeaway will be created following the demolition of The Shampan on the corner of Pope Lane and Cop Lane in the Kingsfold district centre. The venue closed down in May 2019 and has been vacant ever since.

A 15-space car park will be provided for customers, with a further five bays for staff. However, a meeting of South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee – at which the proposal was approved – heard claims from those living nearby that the number of spaces would be insufficient for an area already beset with parking problems.

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A new row of shops will be built on the site of the former Shampan Indian Restaurant in the Kingsfold area of Penwortham (image: Google)

Chris Woronowicz said that patrons of a fish and chip shop close to the planned development pull up in the road and on pavements along Woodville Road and Pope Lane “regardless of parking restrictions”.

He condemned Lancashire County Council’s highways department, which had not objected to the proposal, for assessing the plans “as if nothing else exists in the area – no traffic, no residents, no out-of-place parked cars, no pedestrians, no existing businesses, no safety issues – just a blank canvas for the pleasure of the maximisation of profits for the developer”.

“Everything we say [about] parking in this area can be proved by reviewing the CCTV on the corner of Pope Lane – what can’t speak can’t mislead,” Mr. Woronowicz added.

County Hall guidance recommends up to 50 spaces for such a development, but a lower capacity has been deemed suitable for this plot, because of the presence of a car park behind the Co-Op store nearby and almost two dozen spaces on Pope Lane itself. Judith Woronowicz, another objector, said that the proposal added “another layer of danger to an already dangerous area”.

However, the man behind the development, said that the proposed car park – to be accessed via an existing opening on Pope Lane – was of ample size, because “shopping local and often equates to quick visits – and not always by car”.

Hitesh Chandarana told the committee: “People do not visit local shops for an hour – usually for under ten minutes. Let’s class each visit as 15 minutes long – [that means] a customer parking area of 15 spaces would allow for 60 vehicle visits [an hour].”

He added that any existing parking problems on surrounding roads were not a reason to refuse the application – and instead required “policing and re-education”.

The committee deferred a decision on the development last month because of issues including parking and also the type of vehicles that would be used to make deliveries to the site. Initially, it was proposed to allow 14.9 metre-long articulated lorries, but the applicant has now agreed to limit that to 12 metre-long “rigid” vehicles, members were told.

A gated delivery service area will be accessed via an existing gap on Woodville Road, which will be widened, while a closed-off access point from Pope Lane will be reopened as an exit for delivery vehicles.

Objector Steven Flynn described the plan to reinstate that opening as “outrageous”, stating that it had been shut 20 years ago “to protect pedestrian safety”.

He added: “Lancashire County Council…need to explain to the public how a pedestrian, especially a child, standing on this busy pavement, can ascertain the swing path an HGV pulling out from between two buildings, avoiding cars parked on the pavement outside the chip ship and then driving along the pavement at an angle towards them.”

The meeting heard that County Hall highways officers had made several visits to the site to assess the suitability of what was being proposed.

In response to safety concerns raised by some members, South Ribble planning case officer Chris Sowerby said that the lack of an objection from the county council would be used as “ammunition against us” if the application were refused and taken to appeal.

In approving the proposal, the committee made the permission conditional on deliveries not being allowed during peak school-related travel hours of 8-9am and 3-4pm. A plan for managing the car park – which could include monitoring by an external company to limit waiting times – will also have to be submitted to South Ribble Council for approval.

Committee member and Middleforth councillor Will Adams said he had been “backed into a corner” to support the application because highways officials had not objected to it – adding that he knew “the impact” it would have on the area. He said that the committee therefore had to be “pragmatic” in putting in place conditions to best protect residents.

A total of 25 public objections were lodged to the proposal, along with 16 letters in support.

Jane Clarkson, secretary for the 10 residents of the neighbouring Woodville Court flats, told the meeting that they were happy with the proposed development because it removed the uncertainty about what might happen to the derelict site.

“We have been stuck with this monstrosity for long enough,” she added.

Another local, Zoran Baros – a practising architect – said he had no objection to a modern building replacing the run-down restaurant, but questioned the need for a “large commercial unit” within a small neighbourhood retail area.

However, committee member Cllr Gareth Watson said that the developer had made “quite a considerable effort to mitigate [any issues] as much as possible – probably in excess of what he really needs to do”.

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